Our management team is responsible for the day-to-day running of the Charity and is proud to help lead Team Help for Heroes and work with such a passionate and dedicated group of people.
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Melanie Waters | Chief Executive
Melanie joined Help for Heroes as Chief Executive in November 2016.
Before taking up her role at Help for Heroes, Melanie was Chief Executive at The Poppy Factory, a leading Armed Forces charity which puts the recovery and employment of disabled ex-Service people at its heart.
In addition to her role at Help for Heroes, Melanie holds a number of non-executive roles, and is a Director of the £35m Big Lottery grant-giving body Forces in Mind Trust, a member of NHS England’s Armed Forces Clinical Reference Group, and elected Vice-Chair of Cobseo (Confederation of Service Charities).
Melanie's background is in both the commercial and charitable sectors, where she has focused on External Affairs, Business Improvement and Operations for companies such as the AA.
Bryn & Emma Parry
Bryn was commissioned into The Royal Green Jackets in 1975 and served in 1 RGJ and 2 RGJ between 1976 and 1985. He completed one United Nations tour of Cyprus and three tours of Northern Ireland. In 1981 he returned from under a bush in South Armagh and married Emma. He was the last Adjutant of the Rifle Depot at Winchester and held various instructor jobs including teaching jungle warfare in Australia. In 1985 he decided to leave the Army to fulfil his ambition to become a cartoonist.
Bryn and Emma ran their business, Bryn Parry Studios, successfully for twenty two years, designing and selling various gift products illustrated with his cartoons, mostly with a country theme. He has had nine books published including Mad Dogs and Englishmen, Sex in the Country, Horses for Courses and Shooting Top Tips. His most recent book, Shooting Types: The Second Barrel was launched in the summer of 2011.
Bryn and Emma have three grown up children, Sophie, Tom, and Louisa. Tom is currently serving with 2 Rifles and spent the summer of 2009 fighting in the Sangin area of Helmand.
In October 2007 Bryn and Emma, after a visit to Selly Oak hospital, were moved to found Help for Heroes, which supports our wounded, injured and sick Servicemen and women.
Bryn and Emma live near Salisbury in Downton; their hobbies include country sports, cycling and mountain walking.
David Richmond | Recovery Director
I commanded The Argylls, 5 SCOTS during OP HERRICK 8 and was seriously wounded during a Battle Group operation near Musa Qaleh. Now retired from the Army, I am Recovery Director responsible for the four national Help for Heroes’ Recovery Centres at Tidworth, Catterick, Colchester and Plymouth; the Band of Brothers and Band of Sisters; Grants; Career Recovery; Welfare; Psychological Wellbeing; Health and Physical Wellbeing and Sports Recovery programmes. My roles cover all aspects of delivering and developing support for our wounded, injured and sick and their families. This involves constantly reviewing what is needed, developing our services accordingly and working closely with the MOD, other charities, the NHS and local authorities.
Frances West | Head of Welfare
I joined the Recovery Executive Team as Head of Welfare in April 2014, following a military career and more recent public sector experience. I left the army in 2008 after 21 years’ service following command of 6th Regiment RMP based in Northern Ireland and then 4th Regiment RMP headquartered in Aldershot. My transition to civilian life saw me moving into local government where I joined the senior leadership team of Purbeck District Council as Head of Legal and Democratic Services. Following a reorganisation in 2011 I took on a new role as the General Manager responsible for the Council's Public Health and Housing Services where I delivered a range of services which underpinned the Council's welfare agenda. I was also a member of the Dorset Safeguarding Adults Board.
Claire Barnes | Head of Grants
After training as a Chartered Accountant in the City of London, I went on to employ my financial skills for some 20 years in areas as diverse as Receivership & Liquidation to Finance Director of Airwaves, the RAF Families Association. I took a ten year career change into teaching both in the Special Needs field and mainstream schooling but the call of making a difference using those financial skills again in the charitable sector drew me into Help for Heroes in January 2016. It is both a challenge and an honour every day to work with the Team and the H4H family to support our WIS through the transition from their chosen military career to a rewarding, meaningful and secure future.
Ronnie Allen | Head of Career Recovery
Born in Peru and brought up in Argentina, I am a native Spanish speaker (with an Argentine accent that doesn’t match my very English complexion!). I studied French and Spanish at Exeter University and then joined the Royal Navy as a Warfare Officer in 1992; I was amongst the first women to go to sea. My roles took me from the Bridge of various warships; to Bosnia, interpreting for the NATO Commanders; advising the French Navy on Women at Sea; and to Britannia Royal Naval College as Assistant to the Commander. On leaving the Navy I joined the John Lewis Partnership, spending 18 years in Waitrose branches, as Deputy and then Branch Manager, to Waitrose Head Office as Manager Customer Service Development, through to the newest division, Partnership Services. Here I worked on several large scale, pan-Partnership projects including procurement, outsourcing services, IT, pay and Ts&Cs, contract management, etc. During this time the Golden Jubilee Trust funded a secondment to Help for Heroes for me to set up an ILM accredited Coaching Course for both staff and the charity’s beneficiaries.
Recently appointed Head of Career Recovery at Help for Heroes (July 2016), I now lead a team with the vision to deliver a comprehensive career service to the wounded, injured and sick so that we can inspire and support them on their journey outside of the Armed Forces. The ultimate aim is to support an individual in achieving a fulfilling, sustainable and purposeful role.
Martin Colclough | Head of Sports Recovery
I joined H4H in May 2011 having served in Army and a Junior Soldier from the age of 16, firstly in the Parachute Regiment and latterly in the Royal Army Physical Training Corps (RAPTC). During my military career I developed a keen interest in rehabilitation and paralympic sport, which led me to take a career break as the Senior Paralympic Performance Manager at UK Athletics during 2006/7. In 2008 I helped establish the MOD's Battle Back Programme at Headley Court, a founding partner of which was H4H. My role in the Charity as Head of Sports Recovery is to maintain our position as the leading provider of adaptive sport and adventurous training opportunities, through the Battle Back programme, to wounded, injured and sick personnel to help maintain an active and independent lifestyle, participate in competitive sport and through the delivery of vocational training courses. Much of this work involves exploiting existing opportunities and developing innovative programs with key partners such as the British Paralympic Association and National Governing Bodies for sport.
Vanessa Lewis | Head of Psychological Wellbeing
I am a Psychologist who has worked in private, public and third sector settings but have a specialism and passion for working with military, ex-military personnel and their families. My military experience includes working as part of the Mental Health Team at the MoD’s Rehabilitation Centre ‘Headley Court’, ‘Combat Stress’ and ‘Walking with the Wounded’. At Help for Heroes, I ensure that we deliver the best and most relevant psychological wellbeing support and guidance for those who need it. My work with Help for Heroes has incorporated delivering mental health workshops for those coming through the centres, family members and the staff themselves. My role is integral to the development and implementation of the new Hidden Wounds Psychological Support Programme.
John Crudgington | Head of Health and Physical Wellbeing
I joined Help for Heroes in August 2015 with over 10 years’ experience in the field of health and wellbeing. After graduating I initially set out as a personal trainer before moving into health screening and training delivery. I then joined AXA PPP healthcare where I helped develop a corporate wellbeing business to support workplace health and wellbeing. Having worked in private healthcare for some time I decided that it was time for a change and I feel very fortunate to work at Help for Heroes. I really enjoy what I do and am proud to be part of such a great team.
Ollie Metcalfe | Head of Fellowship
Having trained at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and living and working as an actress in London, I was lucky enough to join Help for Heroes in the summer of 2010 as part of the Challenges and Events team. I have now been managing the Band of Brothers since 2011. I am hugely passionate about making a difference to the lives of the wounded, injured and sick and their family members and feel incredibly privileged to be able to work with these inspirational men and women in such a fantastic organisation.
Ali Richmond | Band of Brothers and Band of Sisters Manager
I started working at Help for Heroes in February 2011, when I was lucky to start up the Band of Sisters. It has been a real honour offering fellowship to the families of the wounded, injured and sick. This is something that I am passionate about due to my husband being wounded in Afghanistan in June 2008.
Before my husband's medical discharge in 2012 I had been an army wife since 1992, living in many different houses and locations around the world. I can honestly say that this has been the busiest, most frustrating, but most rewarding job I could wish for.
TEDWORTH HOUSE, TIDWORTH
Giles Woodhouse | Recovery Centre Manager
After a few years as a professional archaeologist in the Midlands trying to become the next Indiana Jones, I joined the Staffords which became 3 Mercian (Staffords) in 2007. During a 19 year career I served in Northern Ireland, Germany, Hong Kong, Cyprus, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan and was privileged to command the Battalion on operations on Operation HERRICK 14. Running Tedworth House Recovery Centre for Help for Heroes has given me a wonderful opportunity to continue supporting our deserving servicemen, veterans and their families. Outside work, when not supporting my wife running the Royal Oak Hotel in Bere Regis, I try to indulge my passion for archaeology and be outdoors at every opportunity.
CHAVASSE VC, COLCHESTER
Steve Schollar | Recovery Centre Manager
After 32 rewarding years in the RAF’s Personnel Support Branch, serving around the UK, in Germany, Israel, the South Atlantic and the Middle East, I joined Help for Heroes in March 2012. I count myself extremely fortunate to work for Help for Heroes as the general manager of the first purpose-built Recovery Centre which provides a haven for the ‘blokes’ as they recover from the many challenges life has dealt them. In partnership with the ARC, and with the outstanding support of my team and the people of East Anglia, we have put together a comprehensive and exciting programme to complement the blokes’ own preparations for the future.
NAVAL SERVICE RECOVERY CENTRE, PLYMOUTH
Jock Easton | Recovery Centre Manager
Following a rewarding career in the Royal Navy, operating across the world’s oceans, specialising in recreation, adventure and warfare, my final appointment, as First Lieutenant in Devonport Naval Base, gave me a tremendous opportunity to be instrumental in establishing the Recovery Pathway here in Plymouth. Taking on the role of Naval Service Recovery Pathway project officer meant engaging across Help for Heroes to deliver the fantastic Plymouth Recovery Centre facilities of Parker VC and Endeavour Building. As General Manager of the Recovery Centre, I feel incredibly proud that we are able to offer a first class service and an excellent oasis of recovery support for our wounded, injured and sick in the south west of England. I see Plymouth RC taking full advantage of its terrific geographic location to become a unique focal centre for water sports activities, and a centre of excellence for Paralympic training modules.
Clive Emerson, Chief Financial Officer
Finance Director with extensive leisure, FMCG & telecoms experience most recently Divisional FD during the £3bn listing of Merlin Entertainments.
Robin Punt | Communications Director
I'm an experienced journalist having worked at both the BBC and at ITV. The Comms team ensures that the Help for Heroes message is given out to both the public and internally among staff. The team's main concern is ensuring the public understand how their donations make a life-changing difference to the incredible individuals we support and making sure people realise the vital need to continue our mission; providing a lifetime of support for our heroes. As a team we are passionate about inspiring others to help our wounded.
Mandy Lloyd | Head of High Value Partnerships
Marcus O'Shea | Head of Brand Partnerships
The Brand Partnerships team looks after the commercial relationships we have with companies and brands. Whether it is sponsorship of a Help for Heroes event, an on-pack promotion or the development of a new product such as the Help for Heroes Ale with Marston’s, then we’re here to make a success of the activity.
As a life-long supporter of Armed Forces charities and being from a generation whose grandparents served and lived through World Wars, I was extremely proud to join Help for Heroes in 2014 after 20 years generating income for a number of small and major UK charities both in-house and as a consultant.
Claire Gates | Head of Individual Giving
Coming from a long line of servicemen and women, I was delighted to join H4H in September 2013, to become part of a team who achieve such incredible things for our serving and veteran communities and their families.
As Head of Individual Giving I am responsible for voluntary public income, including donations, regular support, gifts in Wills, in memory and in tribute fundraising. Together with my team, we ensure that our supporters are kept up to date and informed as to how every penny continues to make a significant difference to peoples’ lives.
Mark Elliott | Brand Advocacy
Having spent 25 years in the Grenadier Guards and 8 years in the Insurance Industry while building a Countryside Organisation (National Organisation of Beaters and Pickers Up), I was asked by Bryn and Emma to come and help raise some money for wounded heroes. It seemed a very simple idea and I was very happy to help. On 1 October 2007 we opened the doors of the H4H Tin Hut… and the rest, as they say, is history. It's been exciting, humbling, but above all rewarding.
Now, as Head of External Operations, I am responsible for generating income through the teams that I manage:
National Volunteer Team - supporting the network of thousands of passionate volunteers across the Country
Supporter Relationship Team - dedicated to deliver customer service support for the Charity.
National Campaigns Team - looking after the internal and external campaigns from Bake Sales to Supermarket Collections
In addition to this I look after the day to day running of all aspects of the Tin Hut in Tidworth (the original office of H4H), coordinating all major events from concerts to rugby and cricket matches.
David Poppe | Managing Director of Trading, H4H Trading
Sue Castleton | Head of HR
The focus for the HR team is to enable and support all our colleagues to deliver the best for the ‘blokes’ through good employment practices. Our focus is to be an employer of choice at each step of every team members career with Help for Heroes. HR is a varied, stimulating and challenging career path and this role with Help for Heroes certainly is the icing on the cake after more than 20 years as a HR generalist with many well-known UK employers!
Susan Turnbull | Director, People Strategy
I have worked within the HR arena for over 30 year and am a Fellow of CIPD. I have been fortunate to work for companies such as John Lewis, British Waterways, Virgin, Viacom and Carphone Warehouse, where I was Group HR Director. I ran my own HR consultancy practice for 16 years and was the CEO for Glotel PLC - a recruitment agency. Having been with Help for Heroes for 6 years and been fortunate to work in both the Head Office and Recovery environments – my role today is focused on the team who support the blokes – Team H4H. We work with our staff helping us to create an environment where we all feel Inspired, Enabled and Supported.
Meet our wonderful Patrons who give so freely of their time to support our wounded, injured and sick in many activities, spread the message and help us in our fundraising efforts.
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Johnson Beharry VC
Johnson Beharry VC of the Princess of Wales’ Royal Regiment is a British soldier who, on 18 March 2005, was awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest military decoration for valour in the British and Commonwealth armed forces, for twice saving members of his unit from ambushes on 1 May and 11 June 2004 at Al-Amarah, Iraq. He sustained serious head injuries in the latter engagement.
Major Peter Norton GC
Major Peter Norton deployed to Baghdad in 2005 and at the end of July was very seriously injured by an IED; in March 2006 he was awarded the George Cross for his actions during the incident. Following 11 months of hospitalisation and 14 months of rehabilitation at DMRC Headley Court, Pete returned to study for a MSc in Explosive Ordnance Engineering (EOE) at the Defence Academy in August 2007 and was subsequently appointed ‘SO2 Counter-IED and EOE’ within the Technical Division of the Defence Academy’s College of Management and Technology in Sep 2008. He remained in post until 2013, lecturing and mentoring students on a range of military and post-graduate courses, until retiring on medical ground. An active Fellow of the Institute of Explosives Engineers, Pete sat on the National Council and was Chair of its Technical Committee. Pete is the Vice Chairman (UK) (Chairman (designate)), member of the VC & GC Association and trustee of the VC & GC Benevolent Trust. He is a Director/Trustee of Help for Heroes Recovery Centres (H4HRC) (formerly the Tedworth House Charity) in addition to being a “Hero Patron” of Help for Heroes and a supporter and fund-raiser for SSAFA, ABF, BLESMA and The Felix Fund. Pete has rediscovered his love of photography plus new pastimes and interests such as downhill sit-skiing and hand-biking.
Mark Sutcliffe MBE
Mark served in the 2nd Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment 'the poachers' during his service he has deployed to Northern Ireland ,Afghanistan and Iraq.
During his tour of Basra July 2006 after being ambushed and hit by an RPG his left leg was blown off. After a short recovery he took up the post of a Military Liaison Officer for a period of 4 years at the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine looking after the needs of other injured servicepersons and their families.
Mark was awarded an MBE in the Queens Birthday honours list 2012 for his work at RCDM. Having recently left the Army Mark is kept busy representing Help for Heroes and currently training to become an Engineer.
Andy served in the Parachute Regiment for over 25 years reaching the rank of Warrant Officer Class 2 (WO2). He spent most of his career with the Pathfinders as part of 5 Airborne Brigade and finally 16 Air Assault Brigade. He has been on many operational deployments around the world including Northern Ireland, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Iraq and Afghanistan. In July 2006 during OP HERRICK 4 in Afghanistan he was the WO2 of the Pathfinder Group when his right arm was totally shattered during the bitter and prolonged fighting at Musa Qaleh in Helmand province. Since then he has undergone extensive surgery eight times to repair his arm, been a regular customer at Headley Court and is still undergoing treatment at Kings College Hospital in London. He is an ardent supporter of H4H and has sold merchandise, completed three bike rides and ran the London marathon to raise funds for H4H. Andy currently lives in Fleet, Hampshire.
Chris Moon MBE
After leaving the Army, Chris Moon worked for a charity clearing landmines and the debris of war in Asia and Africa and is one of the few westerners to have survived abduction by Khmer Rouge guerrillas. He was blown up while walking in the cleared area of a minefield in remote East Africa in 1995. Less than a year after leaving hospital, Chris did the London Marathon and subsequently many of the world’s toughest ultra marathons, raising funds for charities assisting the disabled. Shortly after being injured he enrolled on a Masters Degree in Security Management at Leicester University which he completed, wrote his autobiography One Step Beyond and went into business as a speaker and trainer on mindset, motivation and leadership.
Andy Stockton served with 32 Regiment Royal Artillery for 19 and a half years reaching the rank of Warrant Officer Class 2. Andy, originally from Chester, has served three tours of Northern Ireland, three tours in Iraq and more recently Afghanistan. Andy lost his arm during an ambush by the Taliban in Sangin, Helmand Province, Afghanistan on 11th June 2006. Andy was medically discharged from the Army on 23rd September this year and lives with his wife in Wiltshire.
David Richmond CBE
I commanded The Argylls, 5 SCOTS during OP HERRICK 8 and was seriously wounded during a Battle Group operation near Musa Qaleh. Now retired from the Army, I am Recovery Director responsible for the four national Help for Heroes’ Recovery Centres at Tidworth, Catterick, Colchester and Plymouth; the Band of Brothers and Band of Sisters; Grants; Training and Development; Welfare; Psychological Wellbeing; Health and Physical Wellbeing and Sports Recovery programmes. My roles cover all aspects of delivering and developing support for our wounded, injured and sick and their families. This involves constantly reviewing what is needed, developing our services accordingly and working closely with the MOD, other charities, the NHS and local authorities.
General the Lord Dannatt GCB CBE MC DL, President
General the Lord Dannatt was commissioned into The Green Howards in 1971 and served with the 1st Battalion in Northern Ireland, Cyprus and Germany and commanded the Battalion in the Airmobile role from 1989 to 1991. From 1994 to 1996 he commanded 4th Armoured Brigade in Germany and Bosnia. He took command of 3rd (United Kingdom) Division in January 1999, and served in Kosovo that year as Commander British Forces. In 2000 he returned to Bosnia as the Deputy Commander Operations of the Stabilisation Force (SFOR). From 2001 to 2002 he was the Assistant Chief of the General Staff in the Ministry of Defence before taking command of NATO’s Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC). In March 2005 he took over as Commander-in-Chief Land Command, and assumed the appointment of Chief of the General Staff in August 2006. He retired from the Army in August 2009 to become Constable of The Tower of London. He published his autobiography: “Leading from the Front” in September 2010. General the Lord Dannatt became a Deputy Lieutenant for Greater London in July 2010 and in January 2011 he was appointed a Life Peer and sits on the Crossbenches. He has been hugely involved in H4H from the start, both as a Trustee and as a Founder Patron before agreeing to become the first President of the Charity.
Jeremy and Francie Clarkson
Jeremy and Francie were key figures in the launch of Help for Heroes. Jeremy's interest in the Armed Forces and Francie's family connections, her father was Major Robert Cain VC, linked them to the young men and women fighting today. An early visit to Selly Oak Hospital inspired them to do what they could to help the wounded. Both have helped fundraise at numerous events and Francie has cycled hundreds of miles alongside our Battle Back riders to Arnhem on the Bridge Too Far ride and continues to be closely involved in the development of the Charity.
Richard Benyon MP
Richard is the Member of Parliament for Newbury. He was commissioned into the Royal Green Jackets in 1981 and served in Northern Ireland and the Far East. On leaving the Army he qualified as a Chartered Surveyor. As well as being a farmer he ran a property business. He is a Minister for the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and has taken a great interest in Defence and Security issues. He is married to Zoe and has five sons. In January 2010 he stepped down from the role of Trustee of H4H but will continue to support the Charity in his non-executive role as a Founder Patron.
Air Vice-Marshal John Ponsonby OBE FRAeS
Air Vice-Marshal John Ponsonby spent nine years in the British Army, before transferring to the Royal Air Force to pursue his love of flying. He spent most of his time flying support helicopters in the UK (including Northern Ireland), Germany, Hong Kong, the Falkland Islands and the Former Republic of Yugoslavia. His time behind a desk was spent in the Ministry of Defence and Command HQs, working at all levels from being a PSO in CDS' office in General Guthrie's time, to commanding 22 Group RAF as an Air Vice-Marshal. He recently joined Augusta Westland, a helicopter company, as Senior Vice-President Training. In March 2011 he stepped down from the role of Trustee of H4H but will continue to support the Charity in his non-executive role as a Founder Patron.
Peta has been a key supporter of H4H since the start and has thrown herself into many fundraising events, including the H4H Big Battlefield Bike Ride, toboggan racing and wingwalking. She has even visited Afghanistan to boost troop morale. Peta was one of our most famous page 3 models, featuring in pages from the Sun to FHMs 2008 Calendar and is now a busy writer, mother and professional cycling fan! She truly is the Forces pin-up!
The professional cycling star has joined wife Peta Todd as an official supporter of the Charity. Mark is a perfect fit with the Charity as it continues to grow its strong association with cycling. H4H was founded with a fundraising bike ride in 2007 and has continued to utilise the sport as a great means for the recovery of our wounded heroes.
Mark first became involved with H4H in 2010, when he attended an event in California; here he met Peta who was in the welcoming party for the injured war veterans who had just completed a trans-America charity bike ride. Mark has continued his support of the Charity by visiting Headley Court and the Help for Heroes run Recovery Centres and by meeting numerous brave wounded heroes.
Ross Kemp is an actor, author and BAFTA winning documentary maker. He rose to prominence in the role of Grant Mitchell in the BBC soap opera, EastEnders. Since 2006, Kemp has received international recognition for his investigative documentaries, specialising in the area of gang culture. His latest endeavours have seen him on the front line with British Troops during OP HERRICKS 6, 7 and 9.
Lorraine Kelly is a TV presenter and journalist: "I am honoured to be a Patron of Help for Heroes and to be involved in the incredible work they do. It is so important that we all get the chance to say thank you to our Armed Forces and for them to know how grateful we are for their service and sacrifices." Lorraine is a keen supporter of Help for Heroes Band of Sisters, taking a personal interest in their stories, and is the face of Bake for Heroes.
From the day he was found in a carrier bag on the steps of Guy's Hospital, Andy McNab has lived an extraordinary life. As a teenage delinquent, he kicked against society. As a young soldier he waged war against the IRA in the streets and fields of South Armagh. As a member of 22 SAS he was at the centre of covert operations for nine years – on five continents. Awarded both the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) and Military Medal (MM) during his military career, McNab was the British Army's most highly decorated serving soldier when he finally left the SAS. Since then he has become one of the world’s bestselling writers, drawing on his insider knowledge and experience. As well as three nonfiction bestsellers, he is the author of the bestselling Nick Stone thrillers. Besides his writing work, he lectures to security and intelligence agencies in both the USA and UK; works in the film industry advising Hollywood on everything from covert procedure to training civilian actors to act likes soldiers; writes for a variety of newspapers and magazines, and continues to be a spokesperson and fundraiser for both military and literacy charities.
James was commissioned an officer in the Life Guards regiment, a unit of the Household Cavalry of the British Army. He rose to the rank of Captain and served as an armoured reconnaissance officer in the NATO peacekeeping force in Kosovo. He was put in charge of leading 30,000 troops into Pristina as the first British officer to enter the Kosovan capital. It was while on duty in Kosovo that he wrote the song "No Bravery".
Simon is a former England Rugby Union International. In 1983, Simon dislocated his ankle and was out of rugby for a couple of years. Part of his recovery was spent at Headley Court, which was also looking after the Falkland Veterans at the time. It was there that Simon says he learnt perspective, and gained an understanding of the bravery and humility of our wounded soldiers. After recovering, Simon went on to represent England in 23 international matches from 1986 to 1992, including the 1991 World Cup and 1992 Five Nations Championship. Simon first became involved with H4H in 2007, contributing to the development of the Charity's swimming pool and rehabilitation centre at DMRC Headley Court. Since then, Simon has supported various H4H initiatives and was instrumental in the organisation of the Heroes Rugby matches in 2008 and 2011, which raised over £2m for wounded, injured and sick Service personnel, veterans and their families.
Sir Ian Botham
"These days the word Hero is used far too often! Over the years I have been inspired by many people, from the incredible young boys and girls with Leukaemia to our brave Servicemen and women, all of them real Heroes. I had the privilege of visiting Selly Oak Hospital some months ago where I met just some of the wounded Heroes from our Armed Services. It was a humbling and inspirational visit.
"Our young men and women of the Armed Forces will say that they are not heroes, they will tell you that they are just blokes doing their job. I think that anyone who volunteers to serve in time of war, knowing that they may risk all, is a hero. These are ordinary people doing extraordinary things and some of them are living with the consequences of their service for life. We may not be able to prevent Servicemen and women from being wounded, but together we can help them get better. I am delighted to be able to 'do my bit' to help Real Heroes and ask that you do your bit, for only being united can we ensure these courageous young men and women get the very best, they deserve it! I am delighted, honoured and very proud to become a Patron of Help For Heroes. Please join me and Help for Heroes, together we can make a difference."
Chris Holmes MBE MA
Chris Holmes is Britain’s most successful Paralympic swimmer and was Director of Paralympic Integration for London 2012. A lifelong campaigner for equality and inclusion, Chris was appointed to the House of Lords in 2013 as the Lord Holmes of Richmond. Chris currently divides his time between parliamentary work, a role as Head of Disability at the Equality and Human Rights Commission and various speaking, consultancy and charitable commitments.
As a boy Chris was a promising sportsman; on school teams for most sports and academically gifted with a distinct ambition to get to Cambridge University, by no means a normal next step from the Kidderminster Comprehensive he attended. At the age of 14 and completely unexpectedly Chris went blind overnight. His extraordinary courage and determination took him back into the pool, and just four years later to straight A’s for his A-levels and a place at Cambridge. That same year he won a record-breaking six gold medals at the Barcelona Paralympics.
In total Chris won nine gold medals, including the record six gold medals at a single Paralympics. He gained a string of World and European titles, broke 35 world records and was awarded an MBE for services to British sport at the age of 20. He was member of the Great Britain swimming team for seventeen years and captain for five.
After retiring from competitive swimming Chris worked as a journalist before qualifying and working as a commercial lawyer specialising in employment and pensions. He also took non-Executive Director roles at the Disability Rights Commission and UK Sport and was an Ambassador for the successful London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic bid.
In 2009 Chris was appointed Director of Paralympic Integration for London 2012. In this role, Chris drew on political skills, strategic know-how and his incredible determination to deliver the most successful Paralympics ever. It worked. London 2012 was the first games to have all sponsors signed to both Olympics and Paralympics, the first games to sell out all the stadia for every session and, incredibly, the first games to achieve worldwide television audiences in the hundreds of millions.
In recognition of Chris’s talents and contribution to the country he was invited by the Prime Minister to enter the House of Lords. Chris relishes this new political role and his experiences navigating the ancient corridors of power with guide dog Lottie offer numerous entertaining anecdotes. His priorities as a parliamentarian are business, transport, education, employment, pensions, diversity and inclusion, sports, media and culture.
Since 2013 Chris also serves as non-executive director for the Equality and Human Rights Commission; improving the equality and human rights legislative framework in the UK remains an important priority. Chris is supporter and patron of several other charities including Duke of Edinburgh Awards, the Queens Diamond Jubilee Trust and Guide Dogs.
Lady Victoria Leatham
Lady Victoria Leatham was Honorary Colonel of 158 Royal Anglian TA from 1996 until 2003. She managed her family home, Burghley House, home of the International Burghley Horse Trials, until this year when she retired. She is a member of the Court of Drapers Company and one of the experts on The Antiques Road Show. She is a keen supporter of the Armed Forces.
Monty is a high profile figure in the worlds of diving and adventure. This ex Royal Marines Officer has led numerous expeditions and projects throughout the world, and is a marine biologist, travel writer, television presenter and public speaker of note. Monty’s work, undertaking all manner of unusual projects, has taken him around the world to a huge variety of environments.
Ken served in the British Army for 25 years. He started as a tank driver but after being selected for Sandhurst he spent most of his career as an officer with the Queens Regiment and the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment. Life was never dull and he saw numerous tours of duty in Northern Ireland, the Falklands, (while on secondment to the Royal Marines) and eventually became an SAS Troop and Squadron Commander where as he puts it 'he got sent away to some very unsafe places and couldn't tell anybody anything about it'! Ken's experiences in the Army led him to other careers in television, public speaking and leadership training. He recently made a moving and much acclaimed documentary on BBC1 that highlighted the plight of homeless servicemen and women. His series Beyond Boundaries on BBC2 has done a lot to change perceptions about disability and he is currently working on a new series to be filmed this year that will tell the story of injured soldiers from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts and their battle back to fitness. In what spare time he has Ken is mad about expeditions, climbing and rugby and lives in Bristol. Ken is passionate about the work of Help for Heroes and is planning his own challenge to raise money and awareness.
Anneka has worked with the forces for over 20 years. Memorable (to her anyway) projects include becoming an Honorary Sapper in the Royal Engineers and getting stuck half way down a death slide; landing a helicopter on top of a submarine during "Treasure Hunt", and presenting "Combat" for ITV, where regiments competed in gruelling physical challenges. The Forces have helped her on numerous "Challenge Anneka" missions and she is delighted to be involved with Help for Heroes.
In 2003, when she was only two years old, Lydia contracted Meningitis with Septicaemia. After being placed on life support and suffering multi organ failure, she pulled through but after countless operations she still had to have below knee double amputations. Lydia, now 14, never lets her disability stop her doing what she wants. She wanted to raise money for Help for Heroes and decided all on her own to do a sponsored swim. The swim was only planned to be 20 Lengths but then on the day, with Matt Kingston and family and friends cheering her on, Lydia swam 64 lengths in 64 minutes, 1 mile, raising just over £13,500. Lydia and her family then organised a 1 mile run/walk in Braunton to raise money for H4H, the sponsorship of which went towards Matt and Ben’s 2010 London Marathon total. Ben and Mark Ormrod both came to support Lydia on her 1 mile run along with hundreds of people. Since then Lydia has climbed Pen-Y-Fan and completed the London Marathon on her handbike to fundraise for H4H. "Ben McBean, Mark Ormrod and Matt Kingston are Lydia’s heroes," explains Lydia’s mum Jodie, "They’ve made Lydia feel proud of herself, feel proud to show her legs off – it is totally due to them. The reason why Lydia wants to do so much for these men and raise money for them is because in her words, 'They have got leggies like me and I want to help."
Gill Shaw ABIPP AMPA
Gill has been a professional photographer for 18 years and has photographed celebrities, royals, presidents and prime ministers on a regular basis. Gill’s first book, ‘Slightly Offstage’, raised funds for ‘Society of Stars’. Gill also won the photographer of the year for her involvement in opening a clinic in Africa for ‘Support for Africa’. In September 2009, Gill launched ‘The Hero Inside’ book and exhibition to raise funds for Help for Heroes. In October 2009, Gill also received a Special Recognition Award for her inspirational work on behalf of charities.
Viscount Brookeborough was involved with the Security Forces in Northern Ireland for 30 years and is only too aware of the vital part Headley Court has played in the recovery of the hundreds of Servicemen and women wounded in that time. Now that the conflict in Northern Ireland is resolved, the need for our world class rehabilitation centre continues and he is delighted to offer his support to Help for Heroes to enhance the lives of our wounded Service Personnel.
HMS BULWARK, the Royal Navy's FLEET Amphibious Flagship capable of Commanding a Brigade level Amphibious Assault. Launched in November 2001 she has a ship's company of 390, a quarter of whom are made up from 4 Assault Squadron Royal Marines (4ASRM). BULWARK's fundraising efforts and involvement with the Big Battlefield Big Bike Ride has led to her being described as 'Help for Heroes favourite ship'.
RAF LOSSIEMOUTH is the largest and busiest fast-jet base in the Royal Air Force. The Station is home to 3 operational squadrons of Tornado GR4s, the Tornado GR4 Operational Conversion unit, a Sea King Search & Rescue Flight, an RAF Regiment Field Squadron and an RAF Regiment Auxiliary Squadron, as well as an extensive range of operational, logistic and administrative support functions. Their day-to-day task is to train and prepare for the projection of air power on operations world-wide. Their commitment of people and aircraft to current operations is wide-ranging and continuous: together with the rest of the RAF, they make a pivotal contribution to the defence and security interests of the UK. They are also a major and well-integrated part of the local community in Moray, an outstandingly beautiful part of Scotland.
Regular donations provide a sustained focus on rebuilding the lives of our wounded Servicemen and women.